Infertility is the inability to conceive a child. Both men and women are tested in order to diagnose infertility. A couple is considered infertile if they have not gotten pregnant after a year of intercourse without using birth control.
About 40 percent of cases of infertility result from the woman’s inability to get pregnant. Another 40 percent results from problems with the man’s sperm. In 10 percent of cases, infertility factors are found in both the man and woman. In the remaining 10 percent, reasons for the infertility are not found.
Infertility in women can result from pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can affect the uterus, fallopian tubes, and the ovaries. A pelvic infection can be caused by a type of bacteria such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. An infection can damage the reproductive organs and leave scar tissue, causing pain in the area of the pelvis. This type of damage raises the possibility of a fertilized egg becoming implanted outside the uterus, known as an ectopic pregnancy.
Infertility may also follow complications from surgical trauma, uterine fibroids, and thyroid disease. Infertility affects 10-15% of US couples. Being over the age of 35 for women or over 40 for men increases your risk of being infertile. Other factors such as diabetes, smoking, kidney disease, and other disorders can also increase your risk of infertility.
MicroGenDX tests used to rule out infection as a cause of infertility
In order to determine the cause of infertility, infections of the reproductive tract are checked for. A MicroGenDX test that shows that the person is not likely to be infected can be used to rule out infection as a cause of infertility. Alternatively, if an infection is found it should be treated as it may be the source of infertility.
An evaluation and culture (growing microbes from your sample in a lab) are often used to diagnose infections. However, standard cultures may come back negative even when you actually do have an infection, and that means your infection won’t be treated. Instead of relying on culture, a MicroGenDX test detects the DNA of all microbes in your sample, along with how much of each is present, and uses that information to identify the bacteria in your infection and the drugs that can best treat it. It is important to know that not all antibiotics work for all bacteria, and some even work differently in different areas of the body. Your doctor should consult the “antimicrobials for consideration” chart on your MicroGenDX report to decide what antibiotic is right for you.
Medical specialties that treat for ruling out infection as a cause of infertility
A primary care healthcare provider is the first contact for treatment. Your provider can recommend a specialist such as a gynecologist, urologist, or endocrinologist if necessary.
How infections that could cause infertility are treated
Preventing a pelvic infection should be a high priority for women trying to get pregnant. If it can’t be prevented, then using a test that detects DNA in your sample to find and treat the infection early is essential. When an infection is present, the MicroGenDX test will indicate options for antibiotics or antivirals that your healthcare provider can prescribe to treat the infection.
In some cases, a healthcare provider may recommend additional treatment. For example, you might need surgery to treat long-term infection.
- Apari P, de Sousa JD, Müller V. Why sexually transmitted infections tend to cause infertility: an evolutionary hypothesis. PLoS Pathog. 2014;10(8):e1004111. Published 2014 Aug 7. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004111, accessed 2 June 2022 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/ articles/PMC4125283/
- Rhoton-Vlasak A. Infections and infertility. Prim Care Update Ob Gyns. 2000 Sep 1;7(5):200-206. doi: 10.1016/s1068-607x(00)00047-0. PMID: 11025272. Accessed 2 June 2022 from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11025272/
- The New York State Task Force on Life and the Law, Advisory Group on Assisted Reproductive Technologies, State of New York, Department of Health. Accessed 2 June 2022 from: https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/1128